Pursing a Legal Career in CJ

Kristy Bailey (l) did her internship at the Conroe law firm of Jo Miller.(r)
Kristy Bailey (l) did her internship at the Conroe law firm of Jo Miller.

Kristy Bailey has been working in the legal field since she was a senior in high school and, in just seven short years, she has assisted with employment, family, and immigration cases -- and even a capital murder special prosecution.

Bailey is senior at Sam Houston State University, pursuing a criminal justice degree with hopes of attending law school in the spring or fall of 2014. With the many contacts she has made through years of working in legal firms and her recent internship with Conroe attorney Jo Miller, she is well on her way.

“I like to read, and I can comprehend legal jargon relatively easily,” said Bailey, who already has dozens of cases under her belt. “I strive for excellence in the field. Through my current employer and other attorneys, I have made several contacts.”

Attorney reviewing legal documents.Bailey sounds like an attorney, easily negotiating the types of documents and proceedings that go into criminal and civil cases. She has worked with Miller, an employment and family law attorney, for three years, and opted to do an internship at the office by restructuring her position.

During her internship, Bailey assisted with drafting pleadings, motions, and discovery; attended and assisted attorneys in depositions; participated in continuing legal education classes; and communicated with clients, courts, experts and witnesses. In fact, she has been assigned to do a response for summary judgment in one of her cases, which will be reviewed by the attorney before being presented to the courts, and helped prepare an outside attorney to handle a deposition for the firm.

“She’s earned the respect of everyone in our office and at the courthouse,” said Miller. “I am a big believer in education and I continue to educate myself. I believe you can’t just skate by on what you think and what you think you know. She has participated in continuing legal education classes designed for attorneys, which is well above what she is doing in her internship.”

Bailey began her legal career in high school with the law office of Randy Bays, serving as a legal secretary and filing clerk. She went on to work for an immigration attorney, “which is completing a lot of paperwork,” before deciding to go to culinary school. She didn’t like it and returned to the law.

Photo illustrating child abuse with young boy holding up his hand defensively.While taking criminal justice classes at Sam Houston State University, she was serving as a legal assistant on a special team of private attorneys assigned to prosecute a capital murder case in Montgomery County. The case involved the beating death of a two year old girl at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend. As she recounted the facts of the case, her eyes begin to glisten as she recalled the cuts and bruises on the victim, who died from a lacerated liver, as well as the evening of partying and arguments that preceded the death.

“Our evidence wasn’t strong enough, and it was all circumstantial,” said Bailey, adding that the defendant plead guilty and is serving 20 years in prison. “Especially in criminal law, where you have the highest burden of proof, you have to have your facts in line and you have to know your facts. You have to know your witnesses and you have to know how to ask the questions to get the right response. Justice isn’t always done – he should have received the death penalty.”

Bailey displays the same intense, deliberate passion when discussing her volunteer work as a special advocate with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which provides information to the courts in child abuse and neglect cases. She worked on the case of a four month old that suffered 14 rib fractures, a broken arm and a hole in the bottom of her mouth, allegedly from being placed to tightly in a car seat. “I could not in a million years recommend that the Mom or Dad should have contact with the child,” she said.

Illustration of discrimation with a red figure kept outside a circle of white figures holding hands.Currently, she is working in employment and family law, cases which involve discrimination on the job or divorce and custody issues. Miller’s office is the plaintiff’s attorney for those who have been discriminated against by their employer based on their age, race, color, gender, sex, disability, the Family and Medical Leave Act or Fair Labor Standards Act. She also assists with family law cases, which often include allegations she deals with in her classes at SHSU, such as sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.

“I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against,” Bailey said. “In this day and age, we should all just get along.”

After all she has witnessed in criminal cases, Bailey said she would like to remain in employment law, perhaps one day succeeding her boss in the practice.

“I consider myself to be a pretty good people reader,” said Bailey. “If someone told me they did it, I morally can’t defend them. If I thought that they were guilty, I couldn’t zealously defend them. I couldn’t ‘get anyone off’ on a technicality for a crime they committed.”

Photo of a female lawyers and a female judge with a witness in court.Bailey, who expects to graduate in December, would like to attend South Texas College of Law, Baylor University, or St. Mary School of Law in Texas, but she is also looking at schools in Oklahoma and North Carolina. She already has collected letters of recommendation from judges, attorneys, professors and even the dean of a law school.

While Bailey is obviously passionate about the law, she has trouble putting into words why she is so driven in this area. She hopes one day to become a district judge.

“It is knowing that I had a part in bringing justice,” she said quietly. “I’m good at it and I excel at it.”

“And I like to argue,” she adds with a smile.

Member of The Texas State University System